The restaurant industry is not a place for the faint of heart.
It takes a very unique person to thrive in the fast-paced, unpredictable, and chaotic restaurant environment. 50% of adults have done it, and 14.4 million Americans do it now.
Working in the restaurant industry is more than an occupation; it is a lifestyle, and a difficult one to boot. For restaurant owners and employees, long hours, high employee turnover, slim margins, and insane competition are simply realities that come with the territory. Vacations and holidays? Fahgetaboutit! You’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant owner or manager who has ever taken time off to vacation during a holiday weekend.
The restaurant industry is certainly not a place for everyone, but let’s ignore the surplus of challenges that would cause any sane person to run screaming in the opposite direction for a moment. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, take a minute to think about the benefits of being a member of the chaotic, unforgiving world that is the restaurant industry.
1) You Work in a Thriving Industry
Everyone needs to eat and millions of people enjoying eating out on a regular basis. Consumer confidence levels are on the rise, gas prices have decreased drastically, and the U.S. has seen steady job growth as of late, causing restaurant sales to hit all-time highs. According to a report by the National Restaurant Association, restaurant sales totaled $48.6 billion in October 2014, an increase of over $400 million in sales compared to the previous month. As you sit with your family, or serve other families this Thanksgiving, take a moment to be thankful that you chose a career in the restaurant industry and not in print journalism or with the US Postal Service.
2) Every Day is Unique
When the kitchen is backed up, the most popular dish is 86'd, and the food runner calls in sick at the last minute, remember that you could be stuck in a cubicle, behind a desk all day. According to a Gallup poll, 71% of Americans are bored or disengaged at work. Of course, working in the restaurant industry does not mean that you are exempt from paperwork and mundane tasks, but days spent working in the restaurant industry are never repetitive. According to Angelo Kinicki, a management professor at Arizona State University, “It's repetitiveness that’s the culprit [for boredom in the workplace].” Every day spent working at a restaurant carries the promise of something new -- new people, new challenges, new curveballs, and endless opportunities for creativity and improvement.
3) You Have the Opportunity to Make a Difference
Restaurant owners and employees often have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the lives of others. Each guest has his or her own story. A restaurant experience can contribute to someone's great day or change the course of a lousy one. Morton's staff met Peter Shankman at the airport after he facetiously requested a steak upon arrival after an exhausting day. A server at Chili's kindly fixed an autistic 7-year-old's cut cheeseburger after she cried that it was "broken." These stories are covered by the media and go viral because of the influence that restaurant workers have on the lives of other people. Whether its celebrating in happy times or uplifting spirits in rough times, restaurantuers can play a crucial role in making a difference in their guests’ lives.
4) You Get to Be a Part of Someone Else’s Story
Whether guests visit your restaurant on their first date, to catch up with old friends, or to celebrate a special occasion, when they choose to dine at your establishment, they make you an element of their story. In 20 years, when a couple tells the story of their first date, or when life-long friends reminisce about the past, they will talk about your restaurant and remember the experience that they had there.
5) You Are a Member of a Team
Most industries don't require that employees work collaboratively with a diverse team of people toward a common goal every day. In order for a restaurant to run smoothly and efficiently, teamwork is not optional. You don't have to be BFFs with the entire staff, but there's nothing better than that feeling that you're operating a well-oiled machine.
Share the reasons that you are thankful to you work in the restaurant industry with us in the comments section below and have a Happy Thanksgiving, whether you spend it with your family or with the families dining at your restaurant!
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